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Watertown-area dancers heading to ‘Dance Moms’ competition

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Two Watertown-area dance studios have been invited to send dancers to a competition that will be filmed as part of a hit reality television show.

Lifetime network’s “Dance Moms,” which debuted in 2011, features squabbling mothers, young dancers and Pittsburgh-based dance instructor Abby Lee Miller, who preps and pushes her students in her studio as they prepare for and compete at competitions across the country.

Traveling to Crouse Hinds Theater in Mulroy Civic Center at Oncenter, Syracuse, to compete and to be filmed on Saturday will be approximately 15 dancers from Dance World and five dancers from Rhonda’s Footeworks.

“We’re very excited,” said Jennifer Hunt, a “dance mom” of Hailey Hunt, 9, a student at North Elementary School.

Mrs. Hunt could be the type of participant producers seek for the show. She said this is her daughter’s first year of competition.

“It’s quite an accomplishment for her — learning seven dances this year versus two the last couple of years,” Mrs. Hunt said. “So we’re pretty proud. She’s very excited.”

Saturday’s competition runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $40 for spectators.

“If you’ve ever seen the show, it’s pretty dramatic,” said Mrs. Hunt. “It’s people like us who bring their kids to dance five or seven days a week and have them compete in all these national competitions.”

Rhonda M. Foote, owner of Rhonda’s Footeworks, said there will be about eight other studios from the Syracuse area competing on Saturday at the invitation-only event, along with the team from the Abby Lee Dance Company.

“The show is controversial,” Mrs. Foote said. “My daughters love it. I don’t watch it because I don’t necessarily approve of the teaching that goes on.”

Mrs. Foote said she has known Abby Lee Miller (through dance-related events) since they were both teenagers. “She’s not as bad as they make her out to be to get some ratings,” she said.

Mrs. Foote said the local dance companies were invited through talent agency In10sity Dance, an Indiana-based company that arranges dance competitions.

Jacob Flynn, owner of In10sity, said he produces about 85 to 90 percent of the competitions featured on “Dance Moms.” He said on Wednesday that he selected Syracuse for a competition because of its strong dance market.

He said he was aware of Rhonda’s Footeworks and Dance World.

“I like the talent in those studios and they have really good sportsmanship,” he said. “I chose Syracuse because I know the talent in that area of north-central New York is very strong. I just wanted to take the cast (of ‘Dance Moms’) to a market where I knew they would have to work hard and get a run for their money.”

Footage from Saturday’s competition will be featured in a third-season episode of “Dance Moms” sometime this fall.

The details
WHAT: In10sity Dance Syracuse Invitational featuring ‘Dance Moms’ from Lifetime network. WHERE/WHEN: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Crouse Hinds Theater, Mulroy Civic Center at Oncenter, 411 Montgomery St., Syracuse.
COST: Tickets are $40 at the door.
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